Revisiting my 7 bold predictions for the Cardinals 2023 season

Today I'm taking a look back at my bold predictions for the 2023 season. Some were right, some were dead wrong, and others were on the right track.

Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Prediction #5 - Nolan Arenado wins National League Most Valuable Player

Nolan Arenado had a really weird 2023 season but had his back been healthier, I have no doubt he would have been in the MVP conversation, but he would not have been able to surpass names like Ronald Acuna Jr., Mookie Betts, or Freddie Freeman.

Arenado was nothing like himself in the first half defensively, and although he fixed that in the second half, his bat then began to fall off. Just look at the difference in his offensive numbers from the first and second half.

Nolan Arenado

1st Half

2nd Half

AVG

.283

.241

OBP

.332

.290

SLG

.518

.373

HR

19

7

RBI

62

31

wRC+

126

79

If you just look at Arenado's total output from 2023, it looks like a guy who just became a league-average hitter in 2023, but the trends show he was a great hitter in the first half, even if it was not quite at an MVP level like he was in 2024, but fell off dramatically down the stretch as the Cardinals were well out of contention and his back continued to bother him.

I have concerns about Arenado's health going forward, but I still trust him to use this offseason to rehab and get back to full strength for the 2024 season. My expectation is that he's more like the hitter we saw in the first half with elite defense in 2024, but if the back can't get under control, then there may be some regression from that.

Something that I think will help Arenado a ton in 2024 is the continued progression of guys like Walker, Nolan Gorman, Lars Nootbaar, and Brendan Donovan. While the Cardinals still need Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Willson Contreras to lead the way, those bats are continuing to emerge as major contributors and take a huge weight off those three veterans. Gorman and Donovan can fill in at third base more often for Arenado if needed too, so he can get a bit more rest or DH days going forward.

Prediction #5 - Wrong, but expect Arenado to get back to receiving votes in 2024